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3 Apr 2013
The youth of today, eh? If they’re not adding to their collection of cheesecutter caps, they’re establishing a red-hot coffee empire based on sustainable, fairly traded product, and winning the 2013 New Zealand Barista Champs on the side. One such wunderkind is Nick Clark, co-owner of Flight Coffee and its flagship cafe The Hangar, and yes – New Zealand’s champion barista for 2013, taking it to The Worlds in Melbourne come May.
The Hangar opened in September last year as Flight’s new headquarters and roastery after shifting from its original base in Napier. Up until then, Memphis Belle on Dixon St was the place to get Flight, and it remains a key outlet for the brand under the captaincy of Bink Bowler.
Meanwhile, at The Hangar, there’s a whole lot of roasting going as evidenced by a deeply delicious aroma and rows of brown-bagged coffee on the counter. Oh, and then there’s the 12-kilogram-capacity Probat roaster that takes up half the room. Goodness knows where they’re going to park the 22-kilo model that’s due any day.
Flight’s speciality is ‘specialty’ coffee – a term referring to premium beans scoring 80 points or above in a 100-point scale determined by its perfection level. This is why single origin is all the rage, for just like single malt whisky it is so darn good you don't need to blend it. According to Clark, though, 'different coffees shine through different extraction methods', which is why the Hangar offers not only 'Slayer' espresso but the drip/filter methods Chemex, V60, Swissgold and AeroPress.
We visited The Hangar to try out their new a la carte menu. ‘We carry the same philosophy behind our food as we do our coffee: quality, sustainable, traceable and executed well.' It features around a dozen options of the light brunch/lunch persuasion and as much local produce as possible. There’s homemade muesli with Zany Zeus yoghurt; Brooklyn bagels with ham, salmon, or smoked eel; a ploughman’s platter with Blackball Salami and ‘one of Barry’s pork sausages’ (that’s Barry of Eastbourne Village Meats), and chicken liver pâté. I’m inclined to ask Nick where the chickens came from but realise I’m straying into the chicken scene from Portlandia.
We tested the waters with Spanish-style baked eggs on a rich chorizo ragout; and smoked sardines dished up in a tin and accompanied by sweet slivers of pickled red onion and capers. Both were artfully arranged on a board carrying plenty of good bread, and were reasonably priced at $15 and $12.50 respectively. A seasonal specials board is in development, and counter food is still available including a BLT on the venerable Vogels.
But wait, there’s more. In a few weeks’ time The Hangar will morph into a bar in the evenings, serving fresh local brews from the likes of ParrotDog and Garage Project. Is there no end to this energy and enthusiasm?
Right-oh then, off to the TAB. Fifty bucks on young Nick to win the World Champs.